Briefly Noted: July 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union and League of Women Voters are trying to stop Ohio officials from investigating credible reports of 39 “double voter” cases in Cincinnati. Both groups sent letters to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urging him to ignore the crimes. Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls sent a separate letter making the absurd argument that “the current legal investigations perpetuate the idea that voter fraud is widespread, when it’s not true,” she wrote. Alex Triantafilou, a member of the local elections board, said an investigation is warranted. “I think any time a person casts two ballots we ought to ask why,” he said.

The IRS is being sued by more than 25 Tea Party groups in federal court over the crackdown the agency has been conducting against conservative and libertarian grassroots organizations for several years. There are about two dozen plaintiff groups in the lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice. Colfax, California-based NorCal Tea Party and Houston-based True the Vote, filed their own separate lawsuits against the IRS. True the Vote attorney Cleta Mitchell said she will demand accountability from the IRS. “We are going to find out through the process of discovery in this lawsuit exactly what the IRS was doing, who was doing it, why they were doing it,” she said.

The conspiracy between left-wing journalists to manufacture news favorable to the Left known as “Journolist” isn’t dead. After dismissing all the Obama scandals now raging as bogus, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post suddenly changed their tune after visiting the White House. Within hours, Marshall and Klein declared the IRS scandal is a real scandal, but the president has nothing to do with it. “What I glean from this is that the previous White House position — nothing more needs be done, this is all a ‘partisan fishing expedition’ — is now inoperative, and a new defense — fire [IRS tax exempt organizations chief] Lois Lerner and then claim that nothing more needs be done, this is all now just a partisan fishing expedition, again — is now in effect,” writes blogger Ace of Spades.

The Washington Free Beacon website reports that by seeking money from a foundation that has a large chunk of its assets in Johnson & Johnson stock, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may have run afoul of federal ethics rules, according to Richard Painter, a former Bush White House chief ethics counsel. Sebelius told a congressional committee last month that she asked the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to contribute to a nonprofit that is attempting to implement Obamacare. The problem, Painter says, is that the foundation holds 13 million shares of Johnson & Johnson stock worth more than $1 billion, which makes the philanthropy one of the company’s biggest shareholders. Because the company is under Sebelius’s regulatory purview, “the HHS secretary can’t ask them for money.”

The Obama administration is using secret email accounts in order to evade public accountability laws, according to Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow and attorney Christopher C. Horner. “There is widespread use throughout the administration of private email accounts to do public business for the obvious reason that it avoids transparency,” said Horner, who is also author of The Liberal War on Transparency. Horner spoke in light of the Associated Press discovery that some Obama political appointees — including HHS Secretary Sebelius — are using secret email accounts to communicate. This appears to be illegal because federal law requires that certain government records be preserved. Federal agencies are required to keep emails in the event they are needed for congressional or other investigations or for lawsuits. The lame explanation offered by the scandal-plagued Obama administration is that officials like Sebelius need the secret email accounts so they’re not swamped with unwanted emails.

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